I discovered Luther van Gorder from a striking small painting of his that attracted my attention in the midst of some of the terrific French and American Impressionist work in the current Paths to Impressionism exhibit at the Newark Museum in New Jersey.
The piece is called In the Park, showing women strolling in New York’s Central Park around the turn of the 20th Century (left, top); and it’s one of those wonderful combinations of impressionist color and free, open brushwork with the traditional academic draftsmanship and geometric solidity that the French Impressionists rejected to great extent, that exemplifies why I love American Impressionism. The original is in the Worcester Art Museum (from which much of the current exhibit at the Newark Museum is drawn).
Van Gorder was from Ohio, studied with the brilliant American Impressionist William Merrit Chase at the Chase School of Art, and under Emile Carolus-Duran, the French painter and atelier master under whom several of the French Impressionists studied, and at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
He painted scenes of rural France, urban Paris, particularly its colorful flower markets, and the banks of the New York Sound among other places; and exhibited at the National Academy of Design and The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
It’s interesting to compare his Japanese Lanterns (left, bottom) to Sargent’s beautiful Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose which was likely its inspiration. Van Gorder also studied in London for a time, where he met Sargent and was exposed to the work of Whistler, the influence of which shows in the tonalist character of some of his work.